Manaia House has taken a significant step towards achieving its vision of providing an accessible, centrally-located, fit-for-purpose facility for tāngata whaiora, whānau, and staff with a karakia at the site to bless workers and the start of the construction phase.
Manaia House will be a service hub in central Whangārei for Community Mental Health and Addiction Services.
The location of Manaia House at 41 Rathbone Street is very important, given that this was the former location of the Māori Land Court.
Northland DHB kaumātua Te Ihi Tito who led the karakia at the Manaia House event on 22 February spoke about the previous use of the space for the Māori Land Court. Given the history of pain, hurt, and anger over land lost that had been expressed there as people sought redress for land having been taken from them, Matua Te Ihi says it was very important for kaumātua to clear the space using karakia to make it safe for staff, tāngata whaiora, their whānau, and others in the community who may come to Manaia House in the future.
Matua Te Ihi reinforced the significance of the name Manaia House. “The name for the building was gifted by the Roopu Kaumātua in Whangārei many years ago. Manaia is the maunga of the tribes of Whangārei and has a significant history within Te Whare Tapu o Ngāpuhi. It is hoped that by kaumātua continuing to endorse its use for Manaia House it will assist tāngata whaiora who are on their cultural identity journey and help them to feel connected to such a significant maunga, either through their whakapapa or by living in Whangārei.”
General Manager, Mental Health and Addictions for Northland DHB, Ian McKenzie, said that having a modern, accommodating, and welcoming space will bring the Manaia House facility in line with comparative service hubs in other regions.
“This project has been in development since 2014 and it is fantastic to see significant steps forward such as this karakia on site. We know that Manaia House will provide a space that people can feel comfortable in and access more easily. Those are important elements for anyone who is seeking support from the services located here. Crucially, we see Manaia House as contributing to our goal of improving equity.”
Ian says that the co-located cluster of services on site and the proximity of Manaia House to other places that tāngata whaiora may also need to go to in central Whangārei, such as banks, the supermarket, WINZ, or pharmacies will remove practical barriers to gaining support and improve equity of access and equity of care.
Project Lead for Northland DHB Mental Health and Addictions Services, Monique Leslie, says that the Manaia House project is a truly collaborative endeavour.
“Staff, tāngata whaiora, whānau, Te Poutokomanawa (Māori Health Directorate), and mana whenua have all provided input,” says Monique. “Te Ahi Kaa, a group of mana whenua representatives to Northland DHB, has provided cultural guidance, including the narrative for the Manaia House design elements. Northland DHB’s Infrastructure and Commercial Services Project Department is working closely with project partners architectural design company Mandeno Design, engineering company Aurecon, and construction company Lanskey.”
Once completed, Monique says that Manaia House will live up to the whakataukī that inspires its logo “ka maru koe I tōku whare” – you will find shelter and protection by my house.
“Providing a space that we can all be proud of and feel comfortable in enhances the mana of everyone that comes through our doors – tāngata whaiora, their whānau, staff and any members of our community,” says Monique.
“The karakia has lifted the spirits of everyone working on this project and we hope that when Manaia House is completed it will do the same for everyone who is welcomed here. Manaia House represents a huge milestone for Community Mental Health and a significant step towards equity of access for the people who are seeking our support. There is a sense of excitement and positivity that tāngata whaiora and whānau will have better access to the good quality services they deserve.”
It is hoped that Manaia House will open in the middle of 2023. The project is supported by funding from the Ministry of Health.
The Community Mental Health and Addiction Services teams that will be located at Manaia House are:
Pictured from left to right are Ian McKenzie – General Manager, Mental Health and Addiction Services Northland DHB, Bert Ahmu – Site Manager for Lanskey Construction, Monique Leslie – Project Lead, Mental Health and Addiction Services Northland DHB, Jeremy Evans – Capital Works Manager, Projects Department - Infrastructure and Commercial Services Northland DHB, Te Ihi Tito – Cultural Advisor and Kaumātua for Northland DHB, and Korotangi Kapa-Kingi – Taituaraa, Mental Health and Addiction Services Northland DHB. (Matua Te Ihi removed his mask only for the duration of the karakia, after ensuring everyone was physically distanced).